Olivetti PC CEO steps down after four months

Not to be outdone by fellow countryman and former Apple Computer CEO Gilbert Amelio, Alessandro Barberis yesterday resigned from the post of CEO of Olivetti Personal Computers SpA, after only four months in the job. Olivetti is so often accompanied in print by the terms 'beleaguered,' 'struggling' or 'ailing,' that users may wonder about the future of the Italian PC company - more now than ever as Barberis has suddenly resigned.

Not to be outdone by fellow countryman and former Apple Computer Inc. CEO Gilbert Amelio, Alessandro Barberis yesterday resigned from the post of CEO of Olivetti Personal Computers SpA, after only four months in the job.

Olivetti is so often accompanied in print by the terms "beleaguered," "struggling" or "ailing," that users may wonder about the future of the Italian PC company - more now than ever as Barberis has suddenly resigned.

There is, however, a chance that the company might just pull itself out of its current hole, according to Antonio Romano, an analyst for IDC in Italy.

Olivetti brought in Barberis - who previously worked for the Italian car maker Fiat - to restructure the company, and the task has largely been completed, according to Romano.

"I don't think this event must be seen in only a negative way, it may now be time for a market expert to take over," the analyst said.

Bernhard Auer, a member of the Piedmont International board and former Compaq executive, will most likely fill the number one slot at Olivetti, says Romano. Piedmont bought Olivetti Personal Computers in January this year.

And in spite of second quarter results expected to show Olivetti's market share slipping by 6 to 7% in Italy and flat growth in the rest of Europe, Olivetti's recent efforts to restructure may pay off.

Although Olivetti is still having problems with its direct sales channel in Italy, it has managed to slim down operating costs, says Romano. With recent restructuring moves - including staff cuts - the company should now be able to survive with annual PC sales of 700,000 units, he adds.

Auer and two of Piedmont's senior executives, Gain Piero Vaccarono and George Culioli will manage Olivetti until the appointment of a new chief executive, company officials say.

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